Plastic surgeons in Australia have found breast implants contaminated with bacteria may increase women’s risk of developing a rare type of cancer.
- Scientists have linked infected implants to Anaplastic Large-Cell Lymphoma
- Research head says it’s no cause for panic
- There have been about 40 documented cases in Australia and New Zealand
Doctors already know infection during surgery can cause the most common complication associated with breast enhancement, known as capsular contracture.
Contracture is the hardening of scar tissue around the implant, causing physical deformity and pain.
However, this is the first time scientists have linked infected implants to the cancer, known as Anaplastic Large-Cell Lymphoma (ALCL).
Associate professor Anand Deva from Macquarie University’s Health Sciences Centre led the research.
“Once you have a contaminated prosthetic in the body, the body can’t get rid of it,” he said.
“This chronic irritation goes on and on, and over a period of time, it stimulates the immune system where some of these cells can potentially transform into cancer.”
The surgeons studied tissue samples from 22 women who developed the rare form of lymphoma after undergoing breast enhancement procedures.
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They found that the women had developed the cancer within eight years of surgery.
Researchers also found that implants with a textured surface, which are popular in Britain and Australia, were 70 times more likely to harbour bacteria than smooth surfaced implants.
No cause for panic: doctor
It is estimated between 5 million and 10 million women around the world have breast implants, but the study’s authors said only a small percentage had gone on to develop cancer.
“I don’t want anyone to panic because across the world, there’s probably about 300 cases worldwide,” said Dr Deva.
“In Australia and New Zealand, we’ve got around 40 documented cases.”